Contrary to what I said in a posting on Fox News Opinion Tuesday that Atlantic Media Company hosted a going-away party for retiring White House senior adviser David Axelrod, Atlantic Media President Justin Smith e-mailed me to say the company “did not host the party and had nothing to do with it in any way.”
Mr. Smith is accurate in the first instance and deserves a correction: it turns out the company itself did not host the party but rather Atlantic Media Vice President Linda Douglass.
But while Ms. Douglass was a White House colleague of Mr. Axelrod’s, doesn’t the question of appropriateness remain? Should a news organization be comfortable with one of its top management hosting a semi-official going-away party for a retiring White House advisor, attended by the president, cabinet secretaries and the elite of the administration?
There will always be social interactions between Washington journalists and Washington political figures. It’s partly how the town operates, gets to know itself, cultivates sources, and collects gossip. Occasionally, even friendship intrudes.
But is it even conceivable that a news organization would be unconcerned if one of its senior executives threw a similar party for a retiring aide from a conservative White House?
And for that matter, for every Linda Douglass, who goes from working for CBS News to covering the 2008 campaign for ABC News to working in the Obama White House and then back to the world of journalism as a vice president for a news organization that prides itself as being one of “the most influential media outlets in America,” how many conservatives can make a similar professional journey in and out of the mainstream media as a journalist?
This article originally appeared on FoxNews.com on Wednesday, February 2, 2011.